The UK’s first dedicated coronavirus field hospital NHS Nightingale opened on Friday at London’s ExCel Centre in the east of the city.
The ExCel Centre is a 100 acre convention and exhibition venue that more commonly hosts events such as Crufts dog show and Comic Con. This year’s London Comic Con was due to take place at the end of May, but has been rescheduled for July.
The temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital was built inside the exhibition space in just nine days by 160 contractors and 200 members of the armed forces. The hospital can house up to 4,000 patients in intensive care beds and will need 16,000 staff to keep it running.
“It shows what’s possible when we come together as one team in a national effort,” said Health Minister Matt Hancock at the government’s daily press conference. He paid tribute to everyone who played a part in the hospital’s construction.
Prince Charles, who tested positive for coronavirus in March, but has now recovered, sent a video tribute to celebrate the hospital opening from Scotland where he has been self-isolating. He described it as “a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work.”
“In this dark time, this place will be a shining light,” he said.
The UK’s death rate has been rising steadily in recent days, and is expected to peak around April 12. As of Friday April 3,605 people in the country have died as a result of contracting coronavirus. The entire country hassince March 23.
More Nightingale hospitals will be opened in coming days and weeks in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff and Harrogate, providing almost 12,000 additional beds for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
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